The State Agency for Child Protection took the initiative, for the first time in Bulgaria, to introduce the universally recognized Caregiver Skills Training Programme of the World Health Organization for families of children with developmental disorders. The pilot testing of the program will be implemented under the leadership of the SACP in partnership with the UNICEF office in Bulgaria, the Autism Today Association and other interested professional organizations in Bulgaria.


In recent years, the number of children with autism spectrum disorders has increased worldwide. This requires а search for new approaches to guarantee the right of invisible children to a dignified and quality life in the community, equal access to health, education and social services, as well as an opportunity for the full development of children and real support for their families.


"Many parents, realizing that their child has a developmental disorder, blame themselves or close themselves off with their problem. We should no longer allow this to happen. Parents must overcome the difficulties they face, but also share their worries and desires. That's why we need the World Health Organization programme to make parents feel supported, confident and secure that they are not alone. With this programme they will understand that their child has opportunities for development and there are specialists who are ready to help both the child and their relatives," said the Chair of the SACP Dr. Eleonora Lilova, opening the pilot meeting.


The first work meeting for the presentation of the programme was attended by Dr. Jane Muita, UNICEF Representative for Bulgaria, Dr. Mihail Okoliiski from the WHO Office in Bulgaria, Dan Chisholm, Regional Adviser on Mental Health at the WHO Regional Office, Dr. Raul Bermejo from the UNICEF headquarters, Dr. Andy Schich from Autism Speaks, representatives of the SACP, the Children's Psychiatric Clinic at Alexandrovska Hospital, the Regional Center for Support of Inclusive Education Sofia-city, the National Center for Public Health and Analysis, the University of Toronto, Sofia University and others.


The WHO programme supports parents of children with developmental disorders or delays from 2 to 9 years of age and can be provided by parents, teachers, health professionals, social workers, volunteers, and more. In this way, families will be able to learn how to react in different situations, how to calm the child, how to engage them in daily activities and games, and how to help them become more independent in everyday life.


The project for working with the child and parents includes a combination of 9 group sessions, 3 individual home visits and appropriate individual exercises. And the message of the creators of the program is that children learn best from activities presented to them in a fun and positive way.


Although much has been said about children with disorders in recent years, too little has been done in terms of the care and support they and their families need. To achieve this, the joint efforts of all responsible state institutions, the non-governmental sector and the whole society are needed. The implementation of the WHO programme for parents is a chance to achieve visible results with children with developmental disorders and long-awaited support for their families in our country.